500th Reformation Anniversary

Today is a church holiday called Reformation. It commemorates the work of the reformers, specifically Martin Luther, to try and bring the Catholic church back to a sound doctrinal position. He was a strong supporter of the church but did not support the places where they were deviating from scripture. His work to repair the problems in the Catholic church were ultimately unsuccessful, but the “protestants” did break off from the Catholic church to try and form churches that held to the teachings of the Bible.

As with all things human and sinful, some of those protestant groups also succumbed to falsehoods and inaccuracies over the years. It takes constant vigilance to keep the devil from eroding the basic truths of the Bible. That vigilance is what the church (or at least our church?) is really celebrating at Reformation. We’re not worshiping Martin Luther. We’re reminding ourselves to continue to test everything we are taught against the unerring Bible. We can sum it up in three phrases (often heard in Latin): sola scriptura, sola fide and sola gratia. Scripture alone reveals the saving work in Christ. Faith in that saving work of Christ is the only path to heaven. And grace, God’s undeserved love for us, is the only way we receive that saving work. If we hear teaching that involves non-Biblical “revelations from God”, requiring good works to get to heaven, or any part of the plan of salvation that requires our own input, those teachings are contrary to what God wrote for us in the Bible.

1 John 4:1-6

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

Want to learn more? Our church body, the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, has a lot of resources available.

Camp 4 Star Visit

Our area churches run a week long summer camp called Camp 4 Star. It has been around for a very long time. I met one alumni who was there in the 60s! Tyla and her siblings were campers in the 90s. It’s going on this week and Tim and Chelsea are heavily involved in keeping the whole thing going. They’ve been inviting us to come visit for years and this year we finally made it happen.

The camp operates out of rented space at Millersylvania State Park in their Environmental Learning Center. Driving up, I was struck by how much the whole setup reminded me of every summer camp you’ve seen in the movies. It’s awesome! They have 4 areas that each have 4 cabins and then a big main building with a full kitchen and some other nearby cabins. The camp holds 128 campers (plus staff) when it’s full, and it is full pretty much every year. If you want your kid to attend, register early!

Elijah had a blast watching all the big kids running around and playing with some other mini-campers (children of staff.) He got to ride around with Tim on the utility vehicle, swim in the lake and ride around in the canoe with Tyla and me. I think he’s counting the days until he turns 10 and can head down there for a full week of camping!

Thanks to Tim, Chelsea and the other counselors for letting us visit!

Christmas Music

Christmas is always a special time for music at our church so I try to record as much of it as I can. This year I ended up posting TWELVE videos from the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services. It as a lot of editing! This was the first time that I’ve done the AV work for a big holiday service using our new amplifier and speakers. It was awesome to be able to mic up the singers and actually balance them individually so that they could both be clearly heard. I want to find out a way to add some more mics but our setup is pretty simple/limited.

I’ll embed a couple of the videos below, but you can view them all on our YouTube page: I created a few playlists to help organize the content (Sermons, Music, and the school kids.) From Christmas there is 1 sermon video and 11 music videos.

Praying For Adversity

calmonbenchThere was a quote at church a few weeks back that keeps popping up in my thoughts. I’m probably butchering its original eloquence but it was something to the effect of “If you knew what God knows, you would have requested the all the adversity in your life.”

The Bible is full of verses explaining that God is omniscient, has a perfect plan for each of us and everything he does is what is best for us.

  • Romans 8:28: “We know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love, who have been called according to his purpose.”
  • Romans 5:3-4: “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
  • James 1:2-3 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”

The list goes on and on, but it follows that if we had all that same knowledge as God, the logical best course of action would be whatever “terrible” thing that is bothering us right now. Of course we don’t have that omniscience so we can’t see the logic and intention behind it, but we trust that it’s there.

As Christians, we know all that, but I love how easily it is summed up as: “If you knew what God knows, you’d be praying for this.”

Church Shirts

I’ve been at my current church for over 10 years and for most of those 10 years I’ve heard people talk about how nice it would be to have custom shirts. The preschool and kindergarten kids could wear them on field trips, volunteers could wear them during events, and we could use them as jerseys at the softball tournament.

This year it finally happened. I ordered from a local company called Image Source. Beth came up with the idea for the design and I got it all cleaned up for the printers. It’s loosely based on our “official” church logo.